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A. N. Whitehead (Alfred North Whitehead) Biography

(1861–1947), (Alfred North Whitehead), A Treatise of Universal Algebra, Principia Mathematica, The Principles of Natural Knowledge

British mathematician and philosopher, born at Ramsgate, Kent, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in 1884. A Treatise of Universal Algebra (1898) established his reputation as a mathematician. His most distinguished pupil was Bertrand Russell, with whom he wrote Principia Mathematica (3 volumes, 191013), widely regarded as the greatest contribution to mathematical logic since the time of Aristotle; a projected fourth volume was not completed due to Whitehead's growing absorption in metaphysics and the philosophy of science. He was Professor of Applied Mathematics at Imperial College, London, from 1914 to 1924, when he was appointed to a professorship in philosophy at Harvard. The Principles of Natural Knowledge (1919) and The Concept of Nature (1920) expounded the philosophy of nature anticipated by the rejection of traditional physics in his paper ‘On Mathematical Concepts of the Material World’ (1906); his theory of ‘extensive connexion’ considered nature as a fabric of interrelated processes, a view informed by Einstein's relativity theory, which Whitehead modified in The Principle of Relativity (1922). From the mid-1920s onward he was preoccupied with his ‘philosophy of organism’, expanding his concepts of nature into a metaphysical doctrine of the endless generation of forms and events. Process and Reality (1929) is the principal exposition of his metaphysics. His other works include Science and the Modern World (1925), Adventures in Ideas (1933), and Religion in the Making (1926), which clarifies the religious implications of his philosophy.

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